Can Your Draft Manuscripts Have Two Spaces after Periods?

Dear Honored Readers:

With the advent of word processing programs, the publishing industry changed the number of spaces after a period. Instead of two spaces after a period, as used with typewriters, they changed it to one space after periods. I was going along with that. I set my Word program to make sure I put only one space after every period.

After an agent requested all manuscripts with two spaces after periods this summer, I was wondering if the rules had changed again and I didn’t know. I did research and discovered that they hadn’t changed the rules. In a published work, one space is put after a period.

However, I found many links that said for draft manuscripts, two spaces after periods is allowed. It gives the editors more space to write their notes. In a comment below, William Shunn pointed out that double-spacing gives more room for editors to write their notes. That is true.  I also read where two spaces after periods is for this same reason. Check guidelines of the editor or agent to whom you are sending your submission. If they have specific guidelines, follow them.

I don’t remember reading this in any of the submission guidelines for publishers or agents, except for the one I had contact with.

My advice is: check the guidelines. If the editor or agent says, put two spaces after periods, do it.

Here are the resources I found, who they were written by and what they said:

MLA (Modern Language Association) Manual one space unless instructor asks for different spacing.
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/

AP (Associated Press) Style Guide says one space after periods.
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/735/02/

Chicago Book of Style – one space after periods.
http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/CMS_FAQ/OneSpaceorTwo/OneSpaceorTwo03.html

James Felici on Creative Pro.com. One space and excellent explanation.
http://www.creativepro.com/article/double-space-or-not-double-space

Pro Blog Service: Started a quandary of people upset about using one space after periods.
http://problogservice.com/2010/02/04/why-you-should-put-one-space-after-a-period-not-two/

MLA one space unless instructor asks for different spacing.
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/

William Shunn: Use two spaces in a draft manuscript: William Shunn in Proper Manuscript Format http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html

Sarah Wiederkehr: AP(Associated Press) Style Book: Use two spaces after a period for a draft manuscript.
http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2009/07/index.html

Robert L. Bacon Double-spacing for draft manuscripts
http://ezinearticles.com/?What-Are-Some-of-the-Reasons-a-Manuscript-Gets-Rejected?&id=4436668

Robert L. Bacon: Double Spacing after periods in draft manuscripts.
http://www.sellingbooks.com/manuscript-submission-format
Eight Hints to Properly Format a Manuscript for an Agent, Editor or Publisher by Robert L. Bacon

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Joan Y. Edwards
https://www.joanyedwards.com

Copyright 2010 Joan Y. Edwards. All rights reserved.

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15 thoughts on “Can Your Draft Manuscripts Have Two Spaces after Periods?”

  1. Joan,

    Yes, follow the guidelines if they’re posted. Personally, I can’t imagine a publisher dismissing a manuscript if there are two spaces instead of one, if it’s a work that catches their interest. I guess I could be wrong!

    Linda A.

  2. I think it would be such a pain to change a manuscript from the normal one-space to two-spaces, that I might have second thoughts about submitting to that market. I have occasionally run into other “weird” format requests, and I either throw up my hands and goo elsewhere, or I put a note in the cover letter that “my word processor won’t do that.”

    There are a lot of markets out there, and ones that cause me too much trouble in submitting are likely to just get skipped. Unless it is an absolute top-bracket high-paying market, why bother?

    1. Dear Jim, Thanks for leaving a comment. I like your advice of looking elsewhere if the demands are weird or put a note in your cover letter that says “your word processor won’t do that.” Keeping a sense of humor helps, too.

      Have a Flip Flap Floodle Day!

      Joan Y. Edwards

  3. I’m always a proponent of following the guidelines for where you’re submitting — some agents and editors just have preferences and it’s worth checking those out and following them (if nothing else it shows you’re paying attention).

    However, if there aren’t guidelines listed or preferences for spaces/font/etc then I think it’s just not something to worry about — there are so many other more important things to stress over like plot, character, theme, story, etc etc. Like Linda said, if they like your work they’re not going to turn it away for having two spaces rather than one.

    My habit is to put two spaces after every period and that’s just not going to change. It’s up to the typesetter to take my manuscript and convert it into the publisher guidelines.

    1. Thanks for writing, Carrie. That’s good advice to not worry about it if the guidelines don’t mention spaces/font/etc. Good luck with your published books.
      Have a Flip Flap Floodle Day!

  4. I’ve been putting two spaces just because I guess that is what I learned in school. Now I have to update my style. Thanks for the info. Good to know.

    1. Dear Jeannine M.,
      Thanks for writing a comment. You’re welcome for the information. I agree that it’s always good to know. Then you can make wiser decisions.
      Have a Flip Flap Floodle Day!

  5. Thanks for the great advice. I still struggle with only one space after a period. It’s good to know some still look for the two spaces. I’ll make sure to check before I start typing away.

    Cheryl

    1. Dear Cheryl, I’m so glad you left a comment. You’re welcome for my post. If you check in your word processing program, it may have a way to fix it so there’s only one space or two spaces after a period. It shows when you are typing a place where you have the wrong spacing. You could also do a search on Google or other search engine: how to set up punctuation rules for grammar check for (name and year of your software). If you email me at joanyedwards1@gmail.com, I’ll be glad to help you figure it out for your word processing program.

      Have a Flip Flap Floodle Day!

      Joan Y. Edwards

  6. Dear Callihan,
    Thanks for writing. I’m glad I ended your 4 day lengthy hunt. You can use find and replace in your Word document to change from two spaces after a period to one space after a period. Also after question marks, and exclamation marks and any other punctuation you need to change spacing for. Good luck with your writing.

    Celebrate you today.
    Joan Y. Edwards
    https://www.joanyedwards.com

  7. You wrote, “two spaces after periods is allowed. It gives the editors more space to write their notes.”

    No. *Double line-spacing* is what gives editors room to write notes on a manuscript. Using two spaces at the end of a sentence is for making the end of a sentence easier to distinguish.

    1. Dear William,
      Thanks for writing. You are right double line spacing does give editors room to write notes on a manuscript. I also read where they said that putting an extra space between the sentences left them room, too. Go with your gut feeling on this. If we get a response from editors, I’m sure they’ll tell us how they like the manuscript formatted. If a particular editor or agent’s website doesn’t give special formatting directions, go with the one with which you’re most comfortable.
      Do something fun to celebrate you today!
      Joan Y. Edwards

    1. Dear Pat,
      It is so great to hear from you. Thanks for adding humor to the “space” situation! Five or Six spaces between sentences sounds like fun, for sure.
      Enjoy your day being your sweet self.

      Never Give Up
      Joan

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